The free agent dominos are starting to fall for the Minnesota Twins. Over the last 24 hours, two of the team's top pitchers decided to sign elsewhere as the Twins lost both Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray and are left picking up the pieces.
Maeda signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers, while Gray signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Neither of the two were expected to return, but the door remained open for potential reunions with both pitchers.
Now that they're officially gone, the Twins will look for ways to replace their innings and production in the starting rotation. It's hard to see Maeda and Gray leave on deals that are surprisingy affordable and not think about how Minnesota slashed its payroll at the beginning of the offseason.
Could the Twins have paid either -- or both -- pitchers if the payroll situation was in a better spot? It seems plausible but all we know for sure is that the team needs to find a way to replace a Cy Young finalist and a solid back-end starter this winter and must do so on a tight budget.
As much as it stinks to watch Gray leave, the Twins at least got something in return and won't be left holding an empty bag.
Twins receive draft pick compensation for losing Sonny Gray
It was expected that Gray would leave for a nice free agent contract this winter, and already there had been talk of what the Twins would get in return. Gray was a free agent so it wasn't possible to get anything back from the Cardinals, but Minnesota did get draft pick compensation based on the deal he signed.
Gray signing a deal of more than $60 million means the Twins will receive a first round comp pick in this year's MLB Draft. The Athletic's Aaron Gleeman confirmed that the pick will be No. 33 overall, which in the grand scheme of things makes the original trade for Gray a pretty decent deal.
Minnesota traded Chase Petty, who was selected No. 26 overall in 2021, to the Reds as the centerpiece of the deal with Cincinnati to get Gray. Out of that deal the Twins got a Cy Young finalist who helped revive the rotation and make pitching a strength for the first time in what feels like forever.
All it ended up costing the Twins was eight draft slots, which is a huge win given the narrative this past season about trades blowing up in the front office's face.
We'll see how Petty turns out, but the Twins will essentially get to replace him three years later while getting all they got out of Gray. It might be preferable to get Gray back on a three-year deal, but at the very least the Twins aren't losing their top pitcher without getting something in return.
That something being a first round pick is a pretty decent parting gift.
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